I had the pleasure to host a panel this week on ‘The CMO as a Growth Hunter’ at the annual Europe CMO Club Summit run by Pete Krainik. My panel was made up of marketing leaders from Atos, Shell, Thermo Fischer and Volvo. John Rontree, Linda Van Schaik, Mike Johnstone and Catherine Dutton. These four companies have grown market cap between 25% to a whopping 77% in the last 3 years beating the PWC Global top 100.
We started the conversation a few data points. Forbes and SAP recently issued some research on the CMO and Growth. Their findings showed that almost all CMO’s had a growth mandate from their companies, but only 12% fell into an elite group of high performing growth CMOs. The model matched performance against the CMO stack – 13 capabilities grouped around marketing outcomes, marketing adaptiveness and marketing culture/organisation.
What all these four companies have in common is being purpose driven. From Atos aspiration ‘digital technologies can deliver a fairer and more inclusive world’; Shell’s aspiration to ‘addressing all of your needs on the move’; and Volvo by 2020 ‘giving you a week of your life back’ and Thermo Fischer shifting from a product led approach to ‘making the world healthier, cleaner and safer’. In fact recent research by the S&P proves that companies that tend towards long termism deliver far greater returns than the companies purely focused on the quarter.
The challenge is measuring the impact of the business of long-term marketing initiatives compared to the relative simplicity of measuring a short-term focus. From our conversation – companies do have mechanisms for measuring long term impact – with methods like financial valuation; sales shift models; base line drivers and customer value metrics in use.
When it came to how marketing should organise for maximum impact on growth we found that no standard model existed. In Volvo, product reports into marketing; Atos marketing reports to the board through an aggregated sales and marketing structure; Shell operated a global/local model and Thermo Fischer’s marketing had go/no go on which R&D efforts should become part of the product portfolio. More critical to the conversation was the initiatives underway to break down silos and bring agility and speed to the marketing process. Atos have built a blended creative hub to address this with agencies and internal sales and marketing teams co-located – cutting weeks out of the process of campaign builds.
We also explored how growth is measured. All our marketers measured revenue impact, but there was less consistency around systemically measuring market share and margin.
As time was short, we didn’t get the chance to discuss what is the optimal culture the CMO and marketing as growth hunter. I would like to reference here some excellent work by Spencer Stuart which I participated in last year. High growth companies optimally should have a blend of culture around 3 axis – performance; learning and caring. This combination keeps focus on results but at the same time encourages innovation and risk taking.
Business models as we all know from the break out dominance of companies like uber and Airbnb are also key to growth. At Volvo – subscription purchase models – with flat all-inclusive monthly fees and effortless car trade-ins are providing a catalyst for growth.
Shell have found that innovative new models based on customer insights are differentiating them in the market including a proposition for fleet drivers that provides then a single device to automatically pass through tolls in any country, rather than having a device per country.
The Forbes/SAP survey on the CMO and Growth – flagged that whilst CMOs were typically strong in terms of customer engagement, driving growth from data insights was a much weaker capability. Atos is ahead of the curve, working with Agent3 deploying propensity models that ensure that marketing messages are delivered contextually in terms of content and timing. Shell have taken a dynamic approach to customer insights – with on-line customer panels in many countries ‘on point’ to provide immediate customer feedback rather than relying on the cadence of more traditional customer feedback mechanisms. And let’s not forget the importance of marketers being in the market. It was a chance observation in China that many Chinese drivers have a tissue box in the car and by adding a tissue box holder alongside the traditional cup holders, this gave Volvo a point of differentiation that had been missed by many of its competitors.
And it would be hard to have a conversation on growth without looking at how to be successful in China. Thermo Fischer has invested for the long term in China, which is now the company’s second largest market after the US. When it comes to China – its is all about digital. Global teams need to get comfortable providing guard rails for budgets and performance expectations but then give the local teams a lot of autonomy. Decision makers in china tend to be younger and appreciate a more informal, experimental marketing style, quite different from the US market-place. With the pace in China so fast, marketing that doesn’t hit the mark, quickly becomes yesterday’s news – meaning that marketers in China have a much higher tolerance to risk than their colleagues in the West.
All our marketing leaders had a focus on building partnerships – with a full understanding that markets are now ecosystems. Whether that was at Volvo with their partnerships with Amazon for ‘prime’ style test drives.
Or being one of the first to market offering customers the option to have Amazon packages delivered to Volvo cars using time logged software codes for vehicle access using mobile devices.
These types of innovations and the marketing around them are shifting Volvo’s appeal from its traditional customers to a younger buyer. Similarly, Shell’s partnerships with start-up Bio Bean which turns coffee waste into biofuel with the support of Shell – is an unexpected partnership which aligns with Shell’s values of embracing clean energy and supporting all of our needs on the move.
It was great to be part of this conversation at the Europe CMO Club Summit and to learn from the successes of great marketers at Atos, Shell, Thermo Fischer and Volvo. We’d love to hear your best learning to drive growth as a marketer.